Many Christians struggle with the issue of whether or not to watch television and, if we do watch, how much TV should we watch? Television, like many other diversions we have in today’s society, has the ability to do both great good and great harm.
On the plus side for the Christian, television can be a wonderful educational tool. News and weather reports have saved countless lives, and we have access to entertainment, sports, and information that can be helpful and uplifting. From a Christian standpoint, TV has been used to share the gospel to virtually every nation on earth (Matthew 28:19), and countless lives have been changed through Christian television broadcasts.
On the negative side for the Christian, many people become addicted to television viewing or mindlessly sucked in to whatever show may be on at the moment. This takes people away from family, friends, and time in God’s Word. Many of the most popular shows today focus on the worst that mankind has to offer, and evil is glorified as good (see 2 Timothy 3:1–5 and Isaiah 5:20). Even on so-called Christian television, there are some men and women claiming to be ministers of God who are more concerned about money and prestige than saving souls (see 2 Timothy 4:3–4).
The impact of television in our lives comes in what we do with it. Christians should not let TV control them; rather, they should use TV as the communication tool it was meant to be.
A discerning Christian television viewer will ask some questions and prayerfully answer them:
– What is my motive for watching this TV show? (See 1 Corinthians 10:31.)
– Does this television show contain material that, as a Christian, I cannot hear or view with a pure mind? (See Psalm 101:3.)
– Will watching this TV show further my understanding of my culture and therefore help me communicate Christ more effectively? Or am I seeking a thrill and secretly relishing scenes of evil?
– Am I committed to obtaining truth from the Word of God rather than from powerful media forms such as television?
– Can I separate the wheat from the chaff? Can I rejoice in biblical themes a TV show might present while rejecting its ungodly elements? Or do the ungodly elements overwhelm any good contained in the show?
– Is there a better use of my time?
It’s difficult to give a hard-and-fast rule about how much television a Christians should watch—or whether he should watch any at all. Ultimately, that decision is between the believer and God—or, in the case of minors, between their parents and God. Christians considering the issue of television should examine the Word, pray about it, listen to their conscience, and follow the Spirit’s leading.
Here are some verses that may help in discerning what is appropriate TV viewing for a Christian:
Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 6:22–23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 13:13–14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Philippians 4:8: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21–22: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”